Sunday, January 2, 2011

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Civil Law: Torts and Damages

PICART v. SMITH
GR. No. L-12219, March 15, 1918

STREET, J.: (Last Clear Chance) The plaintiff was riding on a pony over a Carlatan Bridge at San Fernando, La Union. Before he had gotten half way across, defendant approached from the opposite direction in an automobile, going at about 10-12 miles per hour. He blew his horn as warning which the plaintiff heard. Having seen the approaching fast-approaching auto, he pulled the pony up against the railing on the right side instead of going left. The bridge is about 75 meters long and 4.8 meters wide. The defendant guided the auto to the left, that being the proper side for the auto, he assumed that the plaintiff would move to the other side. The defendant continued to approach without decreasing the speed. When he had gotten near, there being no possibility of the horse getting across to the other side, he then turned the auto to the right to escape hitting the horse. The horse got frightened and turned its body across the bridge with its head across the railing. The auto struck on the hock of the left hind leg of the horse which was eventually broken. The horse fell and the plaintiff was thrown off with some violence. The horse died. The plaintiff received contusions which caused temporary unconsciousness and required medical attention for several days. CFI of La Union absolved the defendant from liability.

ISSUE: Was defendant in maneuvering the car was guilty of negligence such as gives rise to the civil obligation to repair the damage done?

HELD: YES. The control of the situation passé entirely to the defendant; and it was his duty either to bring his car to an immediate stop or, seeing that there was no other persons on the bridge, to take the other side and pass sufficiently far away from the horse to avoid the danger of collision. In doing this, the defendant ran straight on until he was almost upon the horse. In view of the known nature of the horse, there was an appreciable risk that, if the animal in question was unacquainted with autos, he might get excited and jump under the conditions which here confronted him. The test of negligence is: Did the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinary prudent person would have used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence. The question as to what would constitute the conduct of a prudent man in a situation must of course be always determined in the light of human experience. Applying the conduct of the defendant we think that negligence is clearly established. It goes without saying that the plaintiff was not free from fault, for he was guilty of antecedent negligence in planting himself on the wrong side of the road. But the defendant was also negligent; and in such case the problem always is to discover which agent is immediately and directly responsible. It will be noted that the negligent acts of the two parties were not contemporaneous, since the negligence of the defendant succeeded the negligence of the plaintiff by an appreciable interval. Under this circumstances the law is that the person who has the last fair chance to avoid the impending harm and fails to do so is chargeable with the consequences, with reference to the prior negligence of the other party. Judgment is REVERSED.

MERCURY DRUG CORP. v. BAKING

GR. No. 156037, May 28, 2007

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: (Proximate Cause) Sebastian M. Baking went to the clinic of Dr. Cesar Sy for a medical check-up. After undergoing an ECG, and several examininations, Dr. Sy found the respondent’s blood sugar and triglyceride were above normal. The doctor then prescribed two medical prescriptions- Diamicron for the blood sugar and Benalize for his triglyceride. Respondent then proceeded to Mercury Drug Alabang to buy the prescribed medicines. The sales lady misread the prescription for Diamicron as a prescription for Dormicum. Thus what was sold was Dormicum, a potent sleeping tablet. Unaware of the wrong medicine, he took one pill on three consecutive days. On the third day he took the medicine, he met an accident while driving his car. He fell asleep while driving. He could not remember anything about the collision nor felt its impact. Suspecting the tablet he took, respondent went back to Dr. Sy who was shocked after finding that what was sold was Dormicum instead of Diamicron. He filed the present complaint for damages against petitioner. The trial court favored the defendant which was affirmed by the CA hence this petition.

ISSUE: Is petitioner negligent, and if so, is the negligence was the proximate cause of the accident?

HELD: YES. Art. 2176 provide the requisites of negligence: 1. damage suffered by the plaintiff, 2. fault or negligence of the defendant, 3. connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence of the defendant and the damage incurred by the plaintiff. It is generally recognized that the drugstore business is imbued with public interest. Obviously, petitioner’s employee was grossly negligent in selling the wrong prescription. Considering that a fatal mistake could be a matter of life and death for a buying patient, the said employee should have been very cautious in dispensing medicines. She should have verified whether the medicine she gave respondent was indeed the one prescribed by the physician. Petitioner contends that the proximate cause of the accident was respondent’s negligence in driving his car. Proximate cause is that cause, which in natural and continuous sequence unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred Proximate cause is determined from the facts of each case, upon a combined consideration of logic, common sense, policy, and precedent. Here, the vehicular accident could not have occurred had petitioner’s employee been careful in reading the prescription. Without the potent effect of Dormicum, a sleeping tablet, it was unlikely that respondent would fall asleep while driving his car, resulting in collision. Petition DENIED.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Civil law: Torts and Damages: Notes for Midterms

Quasi-Delict: Definition

Art. 2176: Fault or negligence of a person, who, by his act or omission, connected or unconnected with, but independent from, any contractual relation, causes damage to another.

Elcano v. Hill: An act, whether punishable or not punishable by law, whether criminal or not criminal in character, whether intentional or voluntary or negligent, which result in the damage to another.

Quasi-Delict v. Torts

QD is known as culpa-aquiliana is a civil law concept while Torts is Anglo-American or common law concept. Torts is broader than culpa-aquiliana because it includes not only negligence, but intentional criminal acts as well. However, Article 21 with Art 19 and 20, greatly broadened the scope of the law on civil wrongs; it has become more supple and adaptable than the Anglo-American law on torts.

Quasi-Delict: Scope

Art. 2176 and Elcano v. Hill: covers not only punishable by law, but also criminal in character, whether intentional, voluntary, or negligent.

Presence of pre-existing contract generally bars the applicability of the law on quasi-delict. However, Air France v. Carrascoso and some other cases provides that the mere existence of a contract does not automatically negate the existence of quasi-delict xxx the act that breaks the contract may also be tort. Air France is reiterated in PSBA vs. CA.

Types of Quasi-Delicts:

Intentional Torts: When the law tries to serve its highest purpose; to regulate the relations among men; to promote mutual respect, dignity and justice.

Sea Commercial v. CA: Article 19 was intended to expand the concept of torts by granting adequate legal remedy for the untold number of moral wrong which is impossible for human foresight to provide specifically in statutory law.

Elements of Abuse of Right
1. there is a legal right or duty
2. which is exercised in bad faith
3. for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another

Article 19 together with the succeeding articles on human relations was intended to embody certain basic principles “that are to be observed for the rightful relationship between human beings and for the stability of their social orders. (Sea Commercial supra)
Strict Liability Torts:

The rule on strict liability is said to be applicable in situations in which social policy requires the defendant make good the harm which results to others from abnormal risks which are inherent in activities that are not considered blameworthy because they are reasonably incident to desirable industrial activities.

Provisions:
1. The possessor of an animal or whoever may make use of the same is responsible for the damage which it may cause, although it may escape or be lost (Art. 2183)
2. Manufacturers and processors of foodstuffs, etc. (Art 2187)
3. RA 7394 or the “Consumer Acts of the Philippines”.
The product is defective when it does not offer the safety rightfully expected of it, taking relevant circumstances into consideration, including but not limited to:
a. presentation of product
b. use and hazard reasonably expected of it
c. the time it was put into circulation
4. Head of the family that lives in a building is responsible for the damages causes by things thrown or falling from the same ( Art 2193)

Human Dignity

Refer to Jacutin v. People. GR No. 140604, March 6, 2002.

Art. 26 of NCC.

Nuisance

Refer to nuisance in property.

Scope: Public and private
Nature: per se and per accidense

Nuisance is the limitation of the use of property

Bengzon v. Province of Pangasinan: The pumping station should have foreseen the consequences of the construction of such station. The duty shifted to pumping station that they should have thought that the construction may give damage to Bengzons.

Attractive Nuisance: Requisites
1. it must involve children
2. it must have dangerous instrumentality
3. there is a failure to take reasonable precaution

Attractive nuisance is an implied license to enter and a breach of duty.

Quasi-Delict: Person Responsible

Art. 2176: One who directly responsible for the damages is responsible, others are:
1. Father or mother with respect to the damages of their minor child.
2. Guardians with authority to minor child or incapacitated who lives with them
3. Owners and managers of the establishment with respect to employees
4. Employers
5. The State
6. Teachers or heads of establishment of arts and trades with respect to students

Schloendoerff doctrine regards a physician, even if employed by a hospital, as an independent contractor, because of his skill the exercises and the lack of control exerted over his work. Under this doctrine, the hospital is exempt from the application of the repondeat superior principle for fault or negligence committed by physician in the discharge of their profession. HOWEVER, Ramos v. CA weakens this doctrine- hospitals are no longer exempt from universal rule of respondeat superior.

Doctrine of Corporate Negligence, hospitals have now the duty to make reasonable effort to monitor and oversee the treatment prescribed and administered by physicians practicing in its premises.

Doctrine of ostensible agency- imposes liability upon hospital because of the hospitals’ actions as principal or as employer in somehow misleading the public into believing that the relationship or the authority exists.

Quasi-Delict: Requisites

Taylor v. Manila Electric Co.:
1. Fault or negligence of the defendant
2. Damage suffered or incurred by plaintiff
3. The relation of cause and effect between the fault or negligence of the defendant and the damage incurred by the plaintiff.

Traditional Quasi-Delict: Elements

Art. 2176:
1. act or omission
2. damage or injury is caused to another
3. fault or negligence is present
4. no pre-existing contractual obligation
5. causal connection between damage done and act or omission

Quasi-Delict and Crime: Difference

Barredo v. Garcia:
1. Crimes affect public interest, while quasi-delict concerns only private concerns
2. The RPC punishes the criminal act, while NCC, by means of indemnification, merely repairs the damages incurred
3. Crimes are not broad as quasi-delicts, because the former are punished only if there is a law clearly covering them, while the latter include all acts in which any kind of fault or negligence intervenes.

Quasi-Delict and Culpa contractual: Difference

Cangco v. Manila Railroad Co.: Culpa aquiliana (QD) the culpa is substantive and independent, which of itself constitutes the source of an obligation between persons not formerly connected by any legal tie, while culpa contractual, culpa is considered as an accident in the performance of an obligation already existing.

Test of Negligence

Negligence is statutorily defined to be the omission of that degree of diligence which is required by the nature of the obligation and corresponding to the circumstances of persons, time, and place (Art 1173)

Test: Did the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinary prudent person would have used in the same situation? If not he is guilty of negligence. (Roman Law paterfamilias).

CASES

Sea Commercial v. CA- discussion on Art. 19
Afialda v. Hisole- Defense in torts: Assumption of Risk
Jacutin v. People- Human Dignity
Bengzon v. Prov. Of Pangasinan- Nuisance
Taylor v. Manila Electric Co.- Attractive Nuisance
University of the East v. Jader- Art. 19
Uypitching v. Quiamco- Art. 20
Vestil v. IAC- Strict Liability Tort (Art. 2183)
Amonoy v. Gutierrez- Damnum absque injuria (not applied but discussed)
Albenson Enterprise v. CA- Art. 21 (not applied but cited)
Daywalt v. Corporacion- Intentional Tort, Culpable act, wrongful interference of third party in a contract (not applied)
Gilchrist v. Cuddy- Wrongful interference of a third party in a contract (applied), Intentional act
Wylie v. Rarang- Intentional act/ criminal act
Barredo v. Garcia- Independence of civil liability based on NCC from civil liability based on RPC
Elcano v. Hill- Civil action lays even the acquittal in criminal case
Dulay v. CA- Master servant rule
Air France v. Carrascoso- Bad faith, Exception in Art. 2176 as basis for quasi-delict, contractual breach may be subject to torts.
Tenchavez v. Escano- Bad faith
Civil Aeronautics v. CA- Bad faith
Mandarin Villa v. CA- Negligence, test in determining negligence
RCPI v. CA- Negligence
Metropolitan Bank v. CA- Deligence of a good pater familias

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Civil Law: Torts and Damages

CANGCO v. MANILA RAILROAD COMPANY
No. 12191, October 14, 1918

FISHER, J.: (Negligence by employee attributable to employer even in contractual breach) Jose Cangco was an employee of Manila Railroad Company as clerk. He lived in San Mateo which is located upon the line of the defendant railroad company. He used to travel by trade to the office located in Manila for free. On January 21, 1915, on his way home by rail and when the train drew up to the station in San Mateo, he rose from his seat, making his exit through the door. When he stepped off from the train, one or both of his feet came in contact with a sack of watermelons causing him to slip off from under him and he fell violently on the platform. He rolled and was drawn under the moving car. He was badly crushed and lacerated. He was hospitalized which resulted to amputation of his hand. He filed the civil suit for damages against defendant in CFI of Manila founding his action upon the negligence of the employees of defendant in placing the watermelons upon the platform and in leaving them so placed as to be a menace to the security of passengers alighting from the train. The trial court after having found negligence on the part of defendant, adjudged saying that plaintiff failed to use due caution in alighting from the coach and was therefore precluded from recovering, hence this appeal.

ISSUE: Is the negligence of the employees attributable to their employer whether the negligence is based on contractual obligation or on torts?

HELD: YES. It cannot be doubted that the employees of defendant were guilty of negligence in piling these sacks on the platform in the manner stated. It necessarily follows that the defendant company is liable for the damage thereby occasioned unless recovery is barred by the plaintiff’s own contributory negligence. It is to note that the foundation of the legal liability is the contract of carriage. However Art. 1903 relates only to culpa aquiliana and not to culpa contractual, as the Court cleared on the case of Rakes v. Atlantic Gulf. It is not accurate to say that proof of diligence and care in the selection and control of the servant relieves the master from liability fro the latter’s act. The fundamental distinction between obligation of this character and those which arise from contract, rest upon the fact that in cases of non-contractual obligations it is the wrongful or negligent act or omission itself which creates the vinculum juris, whereas in contractual relations the vinculum exists independently of the breach of the voluntary duty assumed by the parties when entering into the contractual relation. When the source of obligation upon which plaintiff’s cause of action depends is a negligent act or omission, the burden of proof rest upon the plaintiff to prove negligence. On the other hand, in contractual undertaking, proof of the contract and of its nonperformance is suffient prima facie to warrant recovery. The negligence of employee cannot be invoked to relieve the employer from liability as it will make juridical persons completely immune from damages arising from breach of their contracts. Defendant was therefore liable for the injury suffered by plaintiff, whether the breach of the duty were to be regarded as constituting culpa aquiliana or contractual. As Manresa discussed, whether negligence occurs as an incident in the course of the performance of a contractual undertaking or is itself the source of an extra-contractual obligation, its essential characteristics are identical. There is always an act or omission productive of damage due to carelessness or inattention on the part of the defendant. The contract of defendant to transport plaintiff carried with it, by implication, the duty to carry him in safety and to provide safe means of entering and leaving its trains. Contributory negligence on the part of petitioner as invoked by defendant is untenable. In determining the question of contributory negligence in performing such act- that is to say, whether the passenger acted prudently or recklessly- age, sex, and physical condition of the passenger are circumstances necessarily affecting the safety of the passenger, and should be considered. It is to be noted that the place was perfectly familiar to plaintiff as it was his daily routine. Our conclusion is there is slightly underway characterized by imprudence and therefore was not guilty of contributory negligence. The decision of the trial court is REVERSED.